The Telangana House on Sunday passed a Bill increasing the quota in jobs and education for Muslims from 4 per cent to 12 per cent, as promised by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi in its 2014 election campaign. The Bill — which also increased the quota for Scheduled Tribes from 6 per cent to 10 per cent — was passed unanimously in a special session of the Assembly from which the BJP’s five MLAs were suspended after they tried to stall proceedings protesting the ruling party’s “communal” politics.
All other Opposition members supported the Backward Class, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Reservation Bill, 2017. The Bill, which proposes to raise the quota ceiling in the state from 50 per cent to 62 per cent, was subsequently debated and passed by the Legislative Council late in the evening.
It will now be sent to the President for his assent, with a request to include it in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, as was done when Tamil Nadu breached the 50 per cent ceiling.
The decision to raise quotas for socially and economically backward Muslims under the Backward Classes (E) category and for STs was taken on the basis of recommendations made by the BC Commission headed by B S Ramulu, sources said. Ramulu met Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao earlier this week to submit the Commission’s report.
During the Assembly session in March, the CM had said that after passing the quota Bills, Telangana would request the Centre to allow the Bill to be included in the Ninth Schedule to give it legal protection. Under Article 31B, introduced in the Constitution by the First Amendment in 1951, laws placed in the Ninth Schedule are immune from judicial review. However, in 2007, a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court held that there could be no blanket immunity for laws included in the Ninth Schedule, and set 1973 as the cut-off year.
The Telangana Assembly was adjourned sine dine on March 28. As the Assembly session was not prorogued by the Governor, it was within the Speaker’s power to summon the House again.
“The poorer sections of Muslims have already been getting 4 per cent reservation under the Backward Classes (E) category. After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, population percentage of Muslims in Telangana has shot up and 90 per cent of them are poor and socially backward. Hence, we have decided to increase reservation for them treating them as OBC,” the Chief Minister told the Assembly.
BJP MLA G Kishan Reddy, however, alleged that the reservations were “pucca religion-based”. “Enhancement of reservation to the Muslims up to 12 per cent is nothing but violation of the Constitution. These reservations were pucca religion-based,” he said.
Islam, Kishan Reddy said, was against discrimination, and warned that the government’s “vote bank politics” would be a “historic mistake”. “The BCs will be meted out injustice in case Muslim reservations are implemented.”
Kishan Reddy clarified that the BJP was extending full support to the increase in the quota for STs.